vol. 4 issues 25
Things have changed.
docu-mental: mapping the american states of mind began in 2018 as a trusted weekly source of well-wrought analyses and podcast interviews on how public and corporate policy in this nation correlates with our declining rates of mental wellness and spiritual connection.
Because I initially thought it would be possible to identify the ways in which our public and economic policies undermine rather than support our mental health, and then discuss what we could do differently as a citizenry to drive legislators to create different, more effective public policy, the trademarked mission was to “Create herd immunity to anxiety and depression. (TM)”
This exercise has been gratifying, leading me to develop friendships and connections I treasure, even if my invitation to Christian Nationalists to engage fell flat (but gained me many new subscribers), and my regular subscribers were never chatty (I do lament how few comments I have generated over the years), you have been loyal readers, encouraging me in ways I probably didn’t emphasize and express my gratitude for enough. Especially since I do not exaggerate when I tell you that publishing docu-mental has changed my life in profound ways.
Not long after I started publishing, however, it was increasingly clear we had lost our damned minds, making the mission less about mapping our minds than locating them, and especially, figuring out who had stolen our minds, and why.
Good and obedient Cold War kid that I was, raised to believe in the goodness of The System, and especially The American Dream, I was almost embarrassed as I pursued this new mission statement. Everything I was discovering and then “proving” by thinking about it out loud with you listening and thinking along with me, demonstrated to me how thoroughly effective was the spell cast upon me by the wizards of mass enchantment who do not want us to wake up.
Increasingly, through many public acts of testing my philosophical developments on my growing audience, I concluded that the system not only makes us sick, it is expressly designed to do so.
But once I saw this, there was no turning back for me. You can’t fall prey to sorcery once you’ve broken the spell. And so, if there was a new theme to this work, it was that the policymakers and the secretive powerful ones behind them thieve and connive to keep us in check.
They do so by infiltrating our creativity and imaginations, torquing our minds to bend towards and beneath theirs until the resulting cognitive dissonance exhausts us all and we either become violent or apathetic, both of which serve their aims to remain in control of us, and worse, to prevent our evolution and progress.
Consider this: Boomers, who primarily comprise the one percent that is most in control of the resources on this planet, were the first generation in human history to come of age with mass media. They started it, and the rest of us have forever been under the media’s spell. It is inescapable. It’s like having a constant chorus of angels and demons — or perhaps demons disguised as angels — commenting in our heads on all things at all times.
Boomers were the frontier of the interior voice of prescriptive living: do this, not that. If you don’t fall in line, you will be left behind.
It is damned near impossible for us to have a thought that wasn’t already commented on in our minds by someone or some image in the media. In all likelihood, whatever is in your mind started in the media, long before it ever arose in your own head.
This is not freedom, it’s an invasion.
And these messages run up and down a very straight line. Gradatim ferociter!— “Step by step, ferociously,” as Jeff Bezos likes to say.
This linearity infects and shames us when we step outside of the lines. Shame is a key driver of the most common forms of mental illness. Indeed, the system’s mechanism of action is its ability to separate us from ourselves and one another through shame and inferiority. It’s hard to be free and democratic when you’re trying to stay in line for fear of being exiled.
Instead, we now have an entire medical industrial complex dedicated to servicing the resulting pathologies manufactured as part of this lucrative incursion into our respective and collective mental states.
Even if the docu-mental mission has morphed over the past four years, I am satisfied I have demonstrated the correlations between these things, and do not think it matters if I, or anyone else, can prove causation. That’s a trap, actually.
It’s enough for each of us to look at our respective lives and see how the lines of hierarchical thinking run through every single activity and situation that makes us sick and unhappy, and worst of all, enslaved, and see that it is this line that has been enforced by all of our systems.
Then, to consider where in our lives we enjoy integration — usually it is while we are doing something as simple as taking a walk in nature — and to see how that is what keeps us whole, sane, healthy, and connected.
Connection and cooperation threaten The Establishment, The System, or whatever form the hierarchical “status quo” happens to take.
Over the years as my alarm over the hierarchy grew louder and more consistent, a few brave souls have written to me privately to say that this is just human nature, but really? Is it? Empires are human inventions, not inevitabilities.
Inertia is the law until it’s disrupted.
The Establishment is utterly, completely, entirely, absolutely, abjectly apolitical. With the Powers That Be, politics is a tool. The powerful wield it agnostically. The only goal is to remain powerful.
I have been thinking that this empirical state of affairs isn’t the result of any powerful person or group’s conscious motivation, as that would involve choice and introspection. Instead, I view it as the powerful’s unconscious approach to life, per the Newtonian law of inertia, which states that what is in motion remains in motion until something arises to disrupt its flow.
Or, as Forrest Gump’s mamma put it, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
The only antidote to the poisonous linear mindset is consciousness. That is, for each of us to take the time to consider our individual circumstances without input from anyone else. Doing so automatically puts each of us at the crossroads of a vibrant, ensouled, connected universe. That’s my observation anyway.
It seems to me whether we like it or not, the trend in human evolution is that we as individuals increasingly are choosing to respond to the world at large based on how we choose to shape the space around us. I even reckon this is a cosmic law we’re only now beginning to twig. If inertia is a law, why not a law of the dynamic potential precipitated by consciousness?
All of this to say, I see no point in creating herd immunity. It’s a form of resistance. Resistance separates.
For me the new question is: How does one teach, model, parent even, if the paradigm of binary instruction is collapsing?
I don’t know the answer. The only two things I can say for sure, based on personal failures and successes, is first that each of us has to trust our own sense of what is right. Not what any. single. other. source. says is right or true.
Be it Fox, MSNBC, BBC, SkyNews, Dr. Fauci, WHO, Dr. Mercola, Congress, Jesus, Moses, any son or prophet of Abraham, even Buddha, consider the arrogance of anyone who doesn’t live your life, presuming to know what you should do, think, or feel. Preposterous.
It does seem that what’s important is to become pliant, not compliant. I take that to mean we should question all policies and procedures, all exchanges of our individual power in service to someone else’s, including to the herd’s.
There is a subtle but essential difference between being connected and being controlled.
Once you get quiet, it’s easier to bend toward what is calling us home. Home is what feels true. You have to get good at not hearing the party music in your head to know what the music of home is, though. And you might make mistakes as you learn the score. Oh, well. Seriously. Oh, well.
And the second thing I can say with confidence is that the only productive binary universal law is cause and effect. In other words, you make a choice, then there is a consequence of that choice for you to contend with. So, choose with care, and act with just as much care. That’s it. There is another word for it: karma.
Whereas my original premise was that we could model freedom of thought to others, and therein create herd immunity to despair, I now believe it’s less about modeling to others than it is about creating more space around ourselves individually by way of making conscious choices that make us available to and for others, but not consumed or tacked onto by them.
And if the universe abhors a vacuum, my suggestion is to fill that space with grace.
So, that’s what’s changed.
As per usual, what you see here at docu-mental is a philosophical work-in-progress.
Paid subscriptions are appreciated, but not the point of this current iteration of the publication. However, I will make it easy for you if you’re inclined.
Whereas I used to publish weekly, for now, I will publish when I am impelled to do so, which I hope is congruent with when I have either something of value to add to the NOISE around us, or when something I already have published bears new consideration. That probably won’t amount to once a week, but will occur at least once a month.
I have been voluminous, after all. Perhaps I am even guilty of being prolix, making the nuggets of whatever truth harder to dig out.
Thank you for the greatest gift of all: your attention.
See you again soon, maybe next week, but definitely next month.
this is my favorite issues yet, i’m excited for you to continue exploring the world through this lens.
i don’t comment because your writing leaves me ponderous and reflective -- something i love!
Whitney, I agree that the current hierarchy is bad. However, IMHO the answer is not to do away with hierarchy. We humans are communal animals, and we need to always be trying to nurture our unity, as well as our diversity. The Greek root of hierarchy and be translated “holy order,” a good thing.